An engagement ring is, for most people, one of the most important purchases you will ever make at a jewelry store or otherwise. So, of course, you want to get it right. Here are some tips for those of you who are not jewelry or diamond experts.

Know Your Partner

An engagement ring is for your partner, not you, so you should be sure you know and understand their taste in jewelry. Do they enjoy large baubles and statement jewelry? Or perhaps they prefer daintier, more precious things. Take a look at their jewelry collection to see what they would buy for themselves.

Choose the Right Stone

Diamonds are the traditional stone of choice for most people, and for good reason. They last for a lifetime and more, they are difficult to tarnish and retain their value and magnificence, and, of course, they sparkle brilliantly. But you don’t have to be a traditionalist – sapphires, opals, rubies, and other precious stones are also gorgeous and might be better suited to your partner’s tastes.

Carefully Select Your Jeweler

Do some research on jewelers in your area. Does your partner want a conflict-free diamond? Do they want one-of-a-kind pieces, or perhaps something vintage with a story from a pawn shop? Rare and precious diamonds and other stones come with a certificate, so make sure you inquire as you shop the jewelry store. And, just in case, ask about a return policy should your partner be less than thrilled with your selection.

Know Your Budget

Your partner probably doesn’t want you to break the bank and enter into an engagement with no savings account, so know what you can reasonably spend and then save up. Tradition dictates that you use three times your monthly earnings, but of course this is not a hard and fast rule. Only spend what you’re comfortable spending.

If all else fails, or you simply want to be in it together, take your fiancé(e) along to the jewelry store or pawn shop! It can be thrilling and romantic to shop for a ring together. Again, these tips will get you started on your search for the perfect engagement ring, but in the end you should always go with your heart.